Oregon City stumbles in semifinal, falls to top-ranked Tualatin, 8-5
When Oregon City ace Morgan Hornback struck out the side in the second inning Tuesday against top-ranked Tualatin, things were looking up for the Pioneers.
Then the Timberwolves put some pressure on Oregon City and the Pioneers cracked.
Tualatin scored four runs in the third inning, four more in the fourth, and walked away with an 8-5 victory over the No. 5-ranked Pioneers in Tuesday's OSAA Class 6A softball semifinal at Tualatin High School.
Tia Ridings, Tualatin's No. 9 hitter, went 2 for 3 with a single leading off the third inning and a double leading off the fourth to help send the Timberwolves (29-0) into Saturday's 1 p.m. championship final against Clackamas at the Oregon State University Softball Complex in Corvallis.
"This is huge. This is everything," Ridings said. "This is the goal we set for ourselves at the beginning of the year. We all told ourselves we were going to do everything we could to make it here, and we did it. It feels amazing."
Oregon City finished with nine hits to Tualatin's seven, but the Pioneers (24-6) also committed five errors, including three in the pivotal third inning when the Timberwolves turned a 1-0 deficit into a 4-1 lead.
Tuesday's loss marked the second season in a row in which Oregon City had lost in the semifinals. It also was the final game for the Pioneers' five senior starters -- Allie Edwards, Zoie Iverson, Ashley Spencer, Camryn Williams, and Hornback.
"We came off a loss last year that was pretty tough, but our goal was to get to the end of the playoffs, and we were just short," Hornback said. "Our attitude stayed up the whole game. A girl makes an error, and we pick them up, and they get the next one. This team was awesome."
Oregon City took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Isabelle Lewis hit a one-out single to center and Hornback drove a 0-2 pitch from Tualatin starter Megan Woodward to fence in center for an RBI-double that scored courtesy runner Aliyah Kelly.
Tualatin threatened in the first with runners at first and second with one out, but Hornback struck out Timberwolves clean-up hitter Taylor Alton and then got Taylor Corcoran to pop out in foul territory.
After the Pioneers left two runners stranded in the top half of the third, the Timberwolves sent nine batters to the plate and scored four runs on one hit -- Ridings leadoff single -- two walks, one hit by pitch, a fielder's choice, and three Oregon City errors.
All the damage was done before the Pioneers had recorded an out, but Hornback stopped the bleeding when she got Andrea Gomez to bounce back to the mound to start a 1-2-3 double play, and then retired Woodward on a fly-out to right.
In the fourth, Oregon City's Hannah Stewart hit a one-out triple and scored on a single by Edwards to cut Tualatin's lead to 4-2, and then the Timberwolves went back to work.
Tualatin again sent nine batters to the plate and scored four runs on four hits, one walk, and two Oregon City errors. The final blow in the inning was Alton's RBI-single that scored Emily Johansen, pushing the Timberwolves lead to 8-2.
In the fifth, Oregon City's Ashley Spencer hit a sacrifice fly that scored Iverson, and Jordyn Duntley had an RBI-double that scored Kelly, cutting Tualatin's lead to 8-4.
In the seventh, Hornback added a two-out, solo homer, but the Pioneers' hopes for an all-Mt. Hood Conference championship final ended with an infield fly for the game's final out.
"Those are the games you live for," said Woodward, who went the distance on the mound for Tualatin, scattering nine hits with one walk and four strikeouts. "I knew walking into it that there was no way we were going to lose this game. You have to have confidence, but anything can happen. We proved tonight that we deserve to be here."
Hornback finished 4 for 4 with two doubles, a homer, two RBIs, and a run scored, while Hannah Stewart, Duntley, Edwards, Iverson, and Lewis had one hit each.
On the mound, the Texas Tech-bound Hornback worked six innings and allowed eight runs (five earned) on seven hits with five walks and six strikeouts.
"I came out ready to hit," Hornback said. "We were a little shaky on our defense, but we battled to the end.
"All season, we've been really good at the plate. The other team scores a run, we score two. That's the way it works. We came up a little short today, but we still hit."